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A Mac Pro prediction

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Rick Lang
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 26, 2012 at 9:13:08 pm

Cute! Just chatting about the next Mac Pro in another thread!

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Herb Sevush
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 26, 2012 at 10:38:48 pm

[Rick Lang] "Just chatting about the next Mac Pro in another thread!"

It's as much fun as chatting about time travel. And as productive.

As befitting Apple's image, nothing has ever been more Tao like than discussions of the "next" mac pro:

"he who knows does not speak, he who speaks does not know."

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Bernard Newnham
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 27, 2012 at 4:21:07 pm

...or maybe there'll be no Macpro at all. Just give up speculating and waiting - build or get built as many Hackintoshes with all the bits you want, for a lot less money.

At this point people say "But what about support? What am I going to do without without nice Apple expensively holding my hand?"

Answer: Go to your nearest friendly PC support company and tell them you have a sick PC which happens to be running OSX.

That's it.

Bernie


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Liam Hall
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 27, 2012 at 7:35:22 pm

Umm...



Liam Hall
Director/DoP/Editor
http://www.liamhall.net
Follow @wordsbyliam


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Craig Seeman
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 28, 2012 at 5:50:18 pm

My crystal iBall

Xeon 6, 8, 16 cores.
2 PCIe3 16 lane slots, one used for the GPU unless that's built in directly then just 1 slot.
4 Thunderbolt ports
4 USB3 ports
Fusion drive maybe with room for one more HDD
16GB RAM expandable to 512GB RAM
2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
Bluetooth
Wifi
Possibly no other internal expansion.
It'll be designed so it can either be rack mounted, sit flat or on its side with a base stand.

The lack of additional internal PCIe slots and HDD bays will be controversial.



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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 12:43:19 am

[Craig Seeman] "The lack of additional internal PCIe slots and HDD bays will be controversial."

I think you're right that we'll see a redesigned enclosure with less internal expansion. If it's really four Thunderbolt ports and two and PCIe slots, it'll be fine. It'll annoy some people, but it'll fundamentally do everything a "pro" Mac needs to do.

If they go with only one PCIe slot and two Thunderbolt ports, however, that might be a little dicey. And then there's the nightmare scenario, which is one half length slot, like the old G4 cube. But I'm pretty sure Apple's smart enough to recognize that a major #1 attraction of the Mac Pro is the fact that you can stick a giant graphics card in it.

We ended up building a Windows machine for Resolve as a consequence of the lack of a Mac Pro update this year, but Windows is pretty damn annoying (as is working out the issues surrounding a Hackintosh), so we'll immediately jump on anything Apple ships that we can plausibly use.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Bernard Newnham
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 11:46:52 am

[Chris Kenny] " Windows is pretty damn annoying (as is working out the issues surrounding a Hackintosh),"

I'd be interested in an expansion of both parts of that sentence.

In what way was Windows annoying?

What were the issues in setting up a Hackintosh?

Bernie


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David Cherniack
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 1:16:56 pm

[Bernard Newnham] "In what way was Windows annoying?"

Probably for the same reasons I find OSX annoying - it's repellent to my sensibilities.

David
AllinOneFilms.com


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Eric Santiago
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 1:47:41 pm

Cant wait to try FCPX on Windows 8....
What too soon?


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Paul Dickin
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 2:28:03 pm

[Bernard Newnham] "What were the issues in setting up a Hackintosh?"

Hi
Not trivial....
In my case installing OS X on the 'most hackable' laptop, the Dell Mini 10v, took about 2 months of my time. Not every day of course, but as each install failed (about 2 dozen in all before I was successful) I abandoned it for a few days before gathering enough motivation to try to crack it again.

Debugging the failures isn't a case of noting where things go wrong, because as there is no real documentation on the procedures (just hundreds of random conflicting/outdated blog postings).

Part of the problem is that manufacturers change the actual hardware and bios firmware without any documentation.

The other problem is that the software hackers who post their kext-installer freely onto the web don't/can't help with support when would-be users find their installation attempts have failed.

Dozens of people post 'solutions' on the various Hackintosh forums, and assessing the merit of their 'successes' was for me an inordinately lengthy process of trial and error error error error....
So, like SCSI in the old days, building a hackintosh is a matter of Karma.
Like meditation, set aside plenty of time.

But I now have a very nice and stable mobile SD Card-to-USB drive location backup set-up ;-)

By the way the reason I wiped Windows off its drive was because every time I booted I got a succession of error messages about various Dell software management programs that were missing vital .dlls etc, which Google had no clear solution for.
I decided installing OS X was probably a simpler solution (for me) than attempting to debug Windows. And if I was going to do an OS reinstall it might as well be OS X.
I was only partially correct in that... ;-)



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Bernard Newnham
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 4:53:36 pm

For so many years I've chanted "never buy a Dell" to people who complain about their problems with them. There are lots of good makes - I lean towards Asus myself.

I can add to that - never use a laptop as a Hackintosh. It almost certainly won't work. You need to go to http://tonymacx86.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/CustoMac Buy your choice of stuff on the list and install software as directed. It will work - I've done two, one of which is right here, though it gets very little use these days. Works perfectly doing all the Mac stuff required.

Still don't understand "debug Windows". Should I be debugging this machine and all the other Windows computers I look after? They do seem to be working perfectly well without me fiddling with them, just like all the other millions in the world.

Bernie


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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 6:23:21 pm

[Bernard Newnham] "In what way was Windows annoying?"

There are just a ton of annoying little things with Windows:

- It takes longer to re-install, if you have to.

- If you build your own box you have to deal with installing lots of drivers.

- It takes forever to boot if you have a motherboard with lots of on-board features or many PCIe cards installed (since some of this stuff insists on showing screens at boot that take a few seconds to go away).

- There are updates. Always updates. So many updates. It seems like if you walk away for five minutes, there are new updates that the system wants you to reboot to install.

- Explorer can't show calculated folder sizes in a column, preview QuickTime movies, or do a bunch of other things one takes for granted on a Mac. QuickTime in general sucks on Windows, to the point where just opening a QuickTime movie, even on an extremely high-end system, takes much, much longer than you'd think it possibly could.

- You can't, of course, jump back and forth between FCP and Resolve on the same system.

- Virtually every drive we get as a post house is Mac formatted. We use a utility called MacDrive in Windows, and it's pretty good, but sometimes if drives are incorrectly unmounted it won't mount them until they've been mounted by a real Mac.

- Windows uses drive letters rather than labels in paths, and drive letters can change every time drives are remounted. This means nothing has a stable path (unless you manually assign a mount point, which takes way too many clicks). Media in projects will therefore need to be re-linked all the time, etc.

- We have a bunch of in-house custom workflow scripts. Windows lacks the standard Unix-style command line utilities and uses rather than / as a path delimiter, requiring me to maintain two versions of these scripts for Mac/Windows.

- While the Windows version of QuickTime decodes ProRes, it can't encode it, so if we need ProRes outputs we either need to render to uncompressed QT and convert, or simply move the whole project to a Mac to render.

Honestly, when building this system I figured "Meh, we're using it to run one app (Resolve), how much can Windows really get in the way?" In practice it turns out it gets in the way quite a bit.

As far as going the Hackintosh route:

- Finding drivers that work with everything is pretty much trial and error, searching through Hackintosh-related forums and downloading different things. Expect kernel panics along the way.

- You can't safely install system updates — they might break compatibility or not work with the crazy hacked up drivers you're using.

- I encountered odd performance problems I've never seen on real Macs — jerky mouse movement, etc.

- Getting two GPUs working on a Hackintosh is non-trivial, to the point where I just gave up.

Put it this way — had we just bought a Mac Pro, our most recent grading system would have been up and running in two hours. Between my mostly unproductive Hackintosh experiments, screwing with Windows, and swapping various cards between PCIe slots, getting a usable grading environment on this system took more like two weeks, and months later there are still a lot of unresolved (and mostly unresolvable) annoyances.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Frank Gothmann
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 7:28:27 pm

And, of course, most of it is the usual Mac user bull from someone who says he used a Windows machine but actually hasn't really used it in depth enough over a period of time.
We just finished building a little machine for Resolve based on an Asus PNX79 motherboard. It took about three hours and Resolve was rolling - stable and ready for productions work. There was zero tinkering with the bios, slots or anything.

[Chris Kenny] "- It takes forever to boot if you have a motherboard with lots of on-board features or many PCIe cards installed (since some of this stuff insists on showing screens at boot that take a few seconds to go away)."

Hmm, this machine I was talking about boots in approx 9 seconds from an SSD.
Oh, those pesky screens. You know you can simply switch them off in the Bios if you don't care about the fact they give you useful info, right?

[Chris Kenny] "- Windows uses drive letters rather than labels in paths, and drive letters can change every time drives are remounted. This means nothing has a stable path (unless you manually assign a mount point, which takes way too many clicks). Media in projects will therefore need to be re-linked all the time, etc."

Well, simply assign fixed drive letters to your external media. All paths are stable then.

[Chris Kenny] "- Explorer can't show calculated folder sizes in a column, preview QuickTime movies, or do a bunch of other things one takes for granted on a Mac. QuickTime in general sucks on Windows, to the point where just opening a QuickTime movie, even on an extremely high-end system, takes much, much longer than you'd think it possibly could."

In the same way as you'd have to install Perian or other tools to get OSX to pick up certain media for previews, same applies to Windows if you want previews for certain Quicktime movies in explorer. Calculated folder sizes: again, just install some freeware. Classic Shell works just fine and it's free.


[Chris Kenny] " If you build your own box you have to deal with installing lots of drivers."

Let's see, motherboard comes with ONE driver disc and is a one click install for chipset, Lan, audio, etc. Basically everything that's on the motherboard. Then there is the graphics card. And then.... hmmm. That's it I guess. Install time: 10 minutes.

[Chris Kenny] "- It takes longer to re-install, if you have to."

Yep, full system image restore over network... 15 minutes.

[Chris Kenny] "- While the Windows version of QuickTime decodes ProRes, it can't encode it, so if we need ProRes outputs we either need to render to uncompressed QT and convert, or simply move the whole project to a Mac to render."

Or get Episode, or Promedia Carbon, or the free FFmpeg.

------
"You also agree that you will not use these products for... the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 8:45:47 pm

[Frank Gothmann] "Oh, those pesky screens. You know you can simply switch them off in the Bios if you don't care about the fact they give you useful info, right?"

If there are such options in this case, they're not obvious. I've looked.

[Frank Gothmann] "Well, simply assign fixed drive letters to your external media. All paths are stable then."

We've just been mapping paths, which also works, but it's an extra 16 clicks or something every time we hook up a new drive for the first time, which is usually several times a day.

[Frank Gothmann] "In the same way as you'd have to install Perian or other tools to get OSX to pick up certain media for previews, same applies to Windows if you want previews for certain Quicktime movies in explorer. Calculated folder sizes: again, just install some freeware. Classic Shell works just fine and it's free."

I'm aware that some of this can be fixed with third-party software (though my searches for something to solve the folder size calculation issue turned up mostly complaints about the fact that what seems like it used to be the standard solution didn't work with Windows 7), but installing half a dozen third-party system enhancements of a production system doesn't seem like a brilliant idea.

[Frank Gothmann] "Let's see, motherboard comes with ONE driver disc and is a one click install for chipset, Lan, audio, etc. Basically everything that's on the motherboard. Then there is the graphics card. And then.... hmmm. That's it I guess. Install time: 10 minutes."

When you say "one click install", at least in the case of this ASUS board, what that means is you click one thing that launches about a dozen different installers, takes easily 20 minutes, doesn't always work perfectly, and if you're not careful will install some demoware you didn't want. I know Windows fans tend to be oblivious to such things, but the whole user experience is fairly atrocious.

[Frank Gothmann] "Yep, full system image restore over network... 15 minutes."

Yes, if you keep images available like that, which requires a fair bit of research to figure out how to set up, and probably isn't worth the time for specialty machines where you've only got one with that configuration. It's also not clear to me that it's legal absent a corporate volume licensing agreement.

[Frank Gothmann] "Or get Episode, or Promedia Carbon, or the free FFmpeg."

Still requires you to output and transcode, generally more than doubling output time and, of course, requiring you to have a huge amount of disk space available to output a feature-length project.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 5:29:23 pm

[Chris Kenny] "I think you're right that we'll see a redesigned enclosure with less internal expansion. If it's really four Thunderbolt ports and two and PCIe slots, it'll be fine. It'll annoy some people, but it'll fundamentally do everything a "pro" Mac needs to do."

GPU, Red Rocket, RAID card -- oops, three cards, two slots. Two GPUs, Red Rocket -- oops, three cards, two slots. Two GPUs, RAID card -- oops, three cards, two slots. Three GPUS -- oops, three cards, two slots.

Next-generation Thunderbolt could help there on the storage side (if the controllers and peripherals would be ready in time), as it wouldn't be bandwidth-limited like current Thunderbolt/4x PCIe RAID controllers. A 2013 Mac Pro with 1 or 2 PCIe slots and any number of first-generation Thunderbolt would be a disappointment, though, because there would be bottlenecks built into the system.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 5:56:43 pm

[Walter Soyka] "GPU, Red Rocket, RAID card -- oops, three cards, two slots. Two GPUs, Red Rocket -- oops, three cards, two slots. Two GPUs, RAID card -- oops, three cards, two slots. Three GPUS -- oops, three cards, two slots.

Next-generation Thunderbolt could help there on the storage side (if the controllers and peripherals would be ready in time), as it wouldn't be bandwidth-limited like current Thunderbolt/4x PCIe RAID controllers."


Thunderbolt seems to be able to achieve real-world speeds of about 700 MB/s for external storage, and for all we know that's limited by the storage controller in the R6 and it could go higher — Thunderbolt's theoretical maximum bandwidth is a full 1250 MB/s and its design indicates it should have fairly low overhead. Vanishingly few users, even in pro video, actually need more than 700 MB/s.

Resolve (probably the most demanding widely used app) as of version 9 has much-improved single-GPU performance (to the point where there are now single-GPU systems in the official configuration guide), and of course OS X now supports much faster graphics cards than it did a couple of years ago. Filling internal slots with a GTX 580 and a RedRocket and using Thunderbolt for external RAID and video I/O would produce a Resolve system capable of handling the vast majority of projects with ease.

[Walter Soyka] "A 2013 Mac Pro with 1 or 2 PCIe slots and any number of first-generation Thunderbolt would be a disappointment, though, because there would be bottlenecks built into the system."

The Mac Pro is already a system built for maybe 5% of Mac users. If you want to then talk about people for whom two PCIe slots + four Thunderbolt ports would be insufficient, I suspect you're now talking about 5% of 5%. I believe Apple is interested in its pro customers, but I think their focus is on what we could perhaps call 'mainstream pros', not the most obscure upper reaches of the market.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 6:37:46 pm

[Chris Kenny] "Thunderbolt seems to be able to achieve real-world speeds of about 700 MB/s for external storage, and for all we know that's limited by the storage controller in the R6 and it could go higher — Thunderbolt's theoretical maximum bandwidth is a full 1250 MB/s and its design indicates it should have fairly low overhead. Vanishingly few users, even in pro video, actually need more than 700 MB/s."

An uncompressed 1920x1080 16bpc RGBA frame requires 15.8 MB; at 29.97 fps, that's 474 MB/s for a single stream. Given that compositing by definition is never single-stream, I'm sure you can imagine that there are is a significant class of users that do benefit from faster storage or more than 6 spindles in a RAID set.


[Chris Kenny] "Resolve (probably the most demanding widely used app) as of version 9 has much-improved single-GPU performance (to the point where there are now single-GPU systems in the official configuration guide), and of course OS X now supports much faster graphics cards than it did a couple of years ago. Filling internal slots with a GTX 580 and a RedRocket and using Thunderbolt for external RAID and video I/O would produce a Resolve system capable of handling the vast majority of projects with ease."

Ae is another very demanding and widely-used app that benefits from multiple GPUs for its new ray-tracing renderer. The more, the merrier. I'm a C4D user, but if I were doing a lot of 3D work in Ae, I'd stuff my computer with as many GTX cards as I could fit in it.


[Chris Kenny] "The Mac Pro is already a system built for maybe 5% of Mac users. If you want to then talk about people for whom two PCIe slots + four Thunderbolt ports would be insufficient, I suspect you're now talking about 5% of 5%. I believe Apple is interested in its pro customers, but I think their focus is on what we could perhaps call 'mainstream pros', not the most obscure upper reaches of the market."

Why should the Mac Pro exclude any workstation user by design?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Herb Sevush
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 6:43:27 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Why should the Mac Pro exclude any workstation user by design?"

Because that's the Apple way. Destructive creation, smaller is better and one picon is worth a thousand words, and the threat that if you don't like it Windows will make you cry.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Oliver Peters
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 6:53:52 pm

Judging by the fact that the new iMac has no optical drive or FireWire ports, I suspect those are definite goners. Add-ons and adaptors to fill those needs, I suppose. Since FCP X now supports the Red Rocket card, I would assume at least one slot, although Apple hardware and applications divisions are internally firewalled from each other, so that may not mean much. If not, then they'll have to rely on T-bolt expansion chassis.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 8:20:41 pm

[Walter Soyka] "An uncompressed 1920x1080 16bpc RGBA frame requires 15.8 MB; at 29.97 fps, that's 474 MB/s for a single stream. Given that compositing by definition is never single-stream, I'm sure you can imagine that there are is a significant class of users that do benefit from faster storage or more than 6 spindles in a RAID set."

Look, you can play the multiplication game all day long. What if I need five streams of 4K at 60 frames a second? Hey, that's 22 GB/s a second, good luck finding any sort of RAID controller for that.

Most projects don't need that. They're not even processed or finished in 16bpc RGBA, and if they are, it's not the end of the world if you have to render the handful of shots that actually require compositing (i.e. multiple streams) — certainly most users won't spend thousands of extra dollars on storage to avoid it. Our experience is that indie features are overwhelmingly either 10 bit DPX film scans, or Red/Epic/Alexa footage. 700 MB/s is enough for multiple streams of any of those. I'm not saying nobody needs anything more, I'm just saying that at that point you're talking about a tiny fraction of the already tiny fraction of computer users who do pro video.

Apple has made some fairly powerful Macs over the years, but fundamentally the Mac is a personal computer. With the relentless march of Moore's Law, full-sized towers are someday going to be relegated to the kind of niche that refrigerator-sized computers currently occupy (or maybe the niche that was once occupied by those mini-fridge sized "desk-side" SGI machines). Apple has never been interested in niches quite that obscure, so at some point before that happens, they're going to stop making a full-sized tower.

[Walter Soyka] "Why should the Mac Pro exclude any workstation user by design?"

Because doing so will allow Apple to make it smaller, quieter, less expensive. In other words, a better system for the vast majority of pro customers who don't (with the existence of Thunderbolt) need quite that much internal expansion. I know I'd find a significantly smaller Mac Pro very convenient for use on location, for instance.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 9:07:53 pm

[Chris Kenny] "Look, you can play the multiplication game all day long. What if I need five streams of 4K at 60 frames a second? Hey, that's 22 GB/s a second, good luck finding any sort of RAID controller for that."

It's not a multiplication game -- I pointed out a real-world scenario that I see every day.

If you need 22 GB/s, you'll be I/O-bound on any system.

Are you really arguing that since you can't attain unreasonably fast speeds that no system offers, you shouldn't bother attaining the reasonably fast ones that other competing systems can?

A workstation needs to be a balanced system -- the fastest sizzle core processors in the world will be of no use to you if you can't read data off the disk subsystem fast enough to feed them. If you're building in a bottleneck, you're building a poor workstation.


[Chris Kenny] "Most projects don't need that. They're not even processed or finished in 16bpc RGBA, and if they are, it's not the end of the world if you have to render the handful of shots that actually require compositing (i.e. multiple streams) — certainly most users won't spend thousands of extra dollars on storage to avoid it."

Maybe most of your projects don't need that -- but nearly all of mine do. Sending multi-channel 16-bit 3D renders to compositing is an everyday workflow in my corner of the industry.

Different users have different needs. I certainly agree with you that fewer users need workstations than before, because regular desktops have become powerful enough and offer fast enough throughput.

Workstations are a demanding niche, no doubt, and maybe Apple isn't interested in trying to meet those needs. We'll have to see.


[Chris Kenny] "Because doing so will allow Apple to make it smaller, quieter, less expensive. In other words, a better system for the vast majority of pro customers who don't (with the existence of Thunderbolt) need quite that much internal expansion. I know I'd find a significantly smaller Mac Pro very convenient for use on location, for instance."

I disagree. I've discussed this several times with Craig, but I don't see how slots add much space, noise, or cost to the system. These things comes from those big hot CPUs, big hot RAM, big hot GPU, and the big hot power supply to keep them and the cooling they all requires running.

Further, you are not actually saving any space, noise, or cost by skipping PCIe slots when you are then adding in outboard Thunderbolt video I/O and storage. You're just moving it around, and sacrificing speed for flexibility.

That said, I do want you to have a smaller option for on location use. I could use a more powerful, more mobile configuration myself. I just fear it will come from Apple at the expense of a larger, more powerful, more expandable option for in-studio use.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 9:36:49 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Are you really arguing that since you can't attain unreasonably fast speeds that no system offers, you shouldn't bother attaining the reasonably fast ones that other competing systems can?"

What I'm arguing is that for any set of specifications, in this business you can come up with a use case that requires even more. Apple has never targeted the very highest reaches of this market. To understand what Apple will likely do, one should look at common industry practice, not evaluate whether the proposed system will meet any obscure high-end requirement someone wants to name.

[Walter Soyka] "Maybe most of your projects don't need that -- but nearly all of mine do. Sending multi-channel 16-bit 3D renders to compositing is an everyday workflow in my corner of the industry."

And you're doing this with external media how? By moving 8+ spindle SAS RAID enclosures around? And you do so much of it that outputting a little more slowly would be a major problem? Again, I'm not saying nobody does this stuff, but — and this isn't meant as an attack on you, because I have no idea what your particular situation is — there's a tendency in this industry to play this sort of game where, instead of looking at what's actually, realistically required to perform certain tasks, and making a reasonable cost/benefit analysis, people say things that amount to "Oh, well, I'd use X equipment to do Y task, and if you're advocating doing Y with something less than X, you're not as serious as I am".

The truth is, Moore's Law has brought us to the point where there are seriously diminishing returns on high-end specialty computing gear, and the higher you get the more they diminish.

[Walter Soyka] "Further, you are not actually saving any space, noise, or cost by skipping PCIe slots when you are then adding in outboard Thunderbolt video I/O and storage. You're just moving it around, and sacrificing speed for flexibility."

That's potentially true of a fully-loaded system, but slots and drive bays take up space whether they're full or not, and take up the same space regardless of the size of what's in them. An external UltraStudio Mini Monitor adds a lot less volume to a machine than a slot that can potentially accommodate a full-length PCIe card does.

Everything keeps getting faster. At some point, it gets so fast that it actually makes quite a lot of sense to start sacrificing some speed for additional flexibility. In the consumer market, it's exactly this phenomenon that has lead so many people to laptops and now to tablets. In our market, "What slot am I going to install a RedRocket card in?" will someday seem as pointless as "What slot am I going to install this SoundBlaster card in?" does in the modern consumer computing world.

--
Digital Workflow/Colorist, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Or read our blog.


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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 11:09:00 pm

Chris, I don't disagree with you on much here. Computers are getting faster and cheaper, and general-purpose computers are more capable for a great many tasks that used to need specialty systems. I understand why Apple may not want to pursue those markets.

I am responding to the point you raised about what "a 'pro' Mac should do."

Major engineering changes to the Mac Pro may result in it becoming a less suitable choice in some production niches. There would be people who were well-served by the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Mac Pros at their respective launches who would be ill-served by a 2013 with limited expansion.


[Chris Kenny] "To understand what Apple will likely do, one should look at common industry practice, not evaluate whether the proposed system will meet any obscure high-end requirement someone wants to name."

What does that mean? Common industry practices are different in the desktop market and the workstation market.

And I don't think I'm naming obscure high-end requirements. (I'll get to those in a minute). Here I was naming real-world requirements for 3D graphics and compositing work for HD material.

What requirements do you think would be fair to expect the successor to the Mac Pro to meet?


[Chris Kenny] "And you're doing this with external media how? By moving 8+ spindle SAS RAID enclosures around? And you do so much of it that outputting a little more slowly would be a major problem?"

My writing was unclear. It's actually working with the media and rendering from the media where performance counts. When you have slow disks, not only do you render slower, but you scrub slower and you preview slower. It's the death of a thousand paper cuts.

I work in large-format animation, so I have some very atypical needs. I did my biggest project yet in terms of data this summer, where a minute-long animation generated 972 GB (not a typo) of multi-pass image sequences. That's a bit over 16 GB/s. Retrieving a single frame meant reading over 500 MB off disk. Every little bit of performance counted, but I was still disk-bound the whole time.

I do understand that I'm a niche within a niche, but I used to be all Mac, and now I don't feel that I could be anymore even if I wanted to be.


[Chris Kenny] "Everything keeps getting faster. At some point, it gets so fast that it actually makes quite a lot of sense to start sacrificing some speed for additional flexibility. In the consumer market, it's exactly this phenomenon that has lead so many people to laptops and now to tablets. In our market, "What slot am I going to install a RedRocket card in?" will someday seem as pointless as "What slot am I going to install this SoundBlaster card in?" does in the modern consumer computing world."

Soyka's Law: Expectations rise at the same rate as capabilities.

Of course the day will come when RedRockets seem quaint -- but we're not there yet.

640KB of RAM was not enough for anyone. Computers are not fast enough -- especially as higher resolutions or higher frame rates come into play.

Again, I'm not really trying to argue with you. I agree with most of your points. I'm just trying to point out that the laments about a more limited Mac Pro design would be real for some of us.

Walter Soyka
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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 11:17:33 pm

Also, I know a bunch of us here (at least Chris, Craig, and Herb) are in the New York area. I hope everyone and their families are safe and are weathering the hurricane well.

Walter Soyka
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 29, 2012 at 11:50:06 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I am responding to the point you raised about what "a 'pro' Mac should do."

Major engineering changes to the Mac Pro may result in it becoming a less suitable choice in some production niches. There would be people who were well-served by the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Mac Pros at their respective launches who would be ill-served by a 2013 with limited expansion."


I'm just not sure that's really true, at least not to a large extent. For instance, you could stick multiple graphics cards in a 2008 Mac Pro at launch, but graphics cards are now so much faster than they were in 2008 that whatever you were doing with multiple cards then can probably be done with a single card now. Maybe there might be some hit over the immediately previous generation, but then again, maybe not with NVIDIA playing with ideas like sticking two GPUs on a single card (the GTX 690, not that there will be enough internal power connectors in any Mac Pro for one of those).

Another thing to consider is that in many instances you run out of physical slots long before you run out of bandwidth. Video I/O and more 'mainstream' RAID (i.e. RAID systems in the range of ~300-800 MB/s) are not all that bandwidth intensive by PCIe standards, yet the cards to do them still take up valuable slots. In this sort of scenario, trading off slots for daisy-chainable Thunderbolt devices is a big win.

So while a system with a couple of PCIe slots and four Thunderbolt ports isn't the best possible Mac Pro Apple could build for every pro customer, I think it really would be better in absolute terms for the vast majority of their pro customers than any previous Mac Pro.

[Walter absolte] "I do understand that I'm a niche within a niche, but I used to be all Mac, and now I don't feel that I could be anymore even if I wanted to be."

I'm not going to tell you otherwise, and I don't think Apple would either. The truth is, the Mac Pro, though a sort of inertia of just putting in the latest increasingly powerful parts and not really thinking about the scope of the product, was, I think, carrying Apple into rarified high-end niche territory that the company hadn't traditionally played in. That was quite useful to some people, but I don't think anyone should be too shocked to see it 'corrected'.

Then again, maybe I'm crazy, and the move upmarket was completely deliberate, and Apple's next Mac Pro is going to be the most beastly thing they've ever shipped, with a $5000 starting price.

[Walter Soyka] "Soyka's Law: Expectations rise at the same rate as capabilities."

I think expectations rise faster than a naive view might expect them to, and for a very long time they did rise at the same rate as capabilities, but they've started falling behind now. This is why the average sale price of personal computers has crashed over the last decade (Apple has resisted this pretty well, but largely through means unrelated to performance), it's why people are now more willing to trade off performance for portability than they used to be, and it's why people now use commodity systems for many professional tasks that they used to buy expensive specialty gear to perform.

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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 30, 2012 at 12:15:41 am

[Walter Soyka] "There would be people who were well-served by the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Mac Pros at their respective launches who would be ill-served by a 2013 with limited expansion."

[Chris Kenny] "I'm just not sure that's really true, at least not to a large extent. For instance, you could stick multiple graphics cards in a 2008 Mac Pro at launch, but graphics cards are now so much faster than they were in 2008 that whatever you were doing with multiple cards then can probably be done with a single card now. Maybe there might be some hit over the immediately previous generation, but then again, maybe not with NVIDIA playing with ideas like sticking two GPUs on a single card (the GTX 690, not that there will be enough internal power connectors in any Mac Pro for one of those)."

I was talking about the suitability of the machines at their respective launches -- in other words, a 2008 Mac Pro in 2008. A 2008 Mac Pro today is easily outclassed by a modern laptop for most tasks.


[Chris Kenny] "So while a system with a couple of PCIe slots and four Thunderbolt ports isn't the best possible Mac Pro Apple could build for every pro customer, I think it really would be better in absolute terms for the vast majority of their pro customers than any previous Mac Pro."

I don't presume to speak for the majority. I have no idea where they are -- video? Audio? Science? What's the average slot usage? I have no idea.

But it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. A Mac Pro with Thunderbolt AND moderate internal expansion is better than either a Mac Pro with Thunderbolt and 2 slots or a Mac Pro with no Thunderbolt and 7 slots.

There's also the question of how to actually integrate discrete graphics cards with video-carrying Thunderbolt ports on the motherboard -- we haven't touched on that yet.


[Chris Kenny] "I'm not going to tell you otherwise, and I don't think Apple would either. The truth is, the Mac Pro, though a sort of inertia of just putting in the latest increasingly powerful parts and not really thinking about the scope of the product, was, I think, carrying Apple into rarified high-end niche territory that the company hadn't traditionally played in. That was quite useful to some people, but I don't think anyone should be too shocked to see it 'corrected'."

Apple made some deliberate up-market moves: Shake, Xserve, and FCSvr come to mind. Their strategy looks a little different today.


[Chris Kenny] "I think expectations rise faster than a naive view might expect them to, and for a very long time they did rise at the same rate as capabilities, but they've started falling behind now. This is why the average sale price of personal computers has crashed over the last decade (Apple has resisted this pretty well, but largely through means unrelated to performance), it's why people are now more willing to trade off performance for portability than they used to be, and it's why people now use commodity systems for many professional tasks that they used to buy expensive specialty gear to perform."

Expectations escalation is about much more than price or performance. Look at the client side: as soon as we can accomplish something new, better, or faster, it becomes expected that we will do it. Expectation escalation is not refuted by how commodity systems can now perform specialty tasks -- expectation escalation explains how that came to be.

Walter Soyka
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 30, 2012 at 2:09:06 am

[Walter Soyka] "There's also the question of how to actually integrate discrete graphics cards with video-carrying Thunderbolt ports on the motherboard -- we haven't touched on that yet."

There's a motherboard on the market already that I believe solves this problem just by having DisplayPort input on the motherboard, to which you simply run a DisplayPort cable from the graphics card. That's a simple enough solution, and with a case designed with it in mind it wouldn't have to be ugly.

Another possible option is to just include some halfway respectable on-board graphics and use that video signal on Thunderbolt. This would also give Apple the option to offer versions of the system without a discrete graphics card at all, which makes a lot of sense if there's a new form factor that's rack-mountable and is intended to also fill the gap left open by the Xserve's cancelation. It would be nice for Resolve too, since while Resolve runs pretty well now with one GPU, it still likes two GPUs more; a moderately decent on-board GPU that could be used to drive the GUI would free up the 'real' GPU completely for CUDA processing without tying up a slot.

Of course doing things that way would mean you couldn't use a Thunderbolt screen if you wanted it directly attached to your fastest graphics card, but the main appeal of Thunderbolt for screens is that you can hook up the screen and a bunch of peripherals plugged into it with a single cable; that's cool for laptops, not so exciting for towers.

[Walter Soyka] "Expectations escalation is about much more than price or performance. Look at the client side: as soon as we can accomplish something new, better, or faster, it becomes expected that we will do it. "

But new things take a while to show up. Color grading used to be a 'heavy iron' task, now in most cases it doesn't need to be. It's not like everyone said 'Well, sure, we can now get 10 nodes in real time on commodity hardware, but we're going to stick with $200K specialty systems because now we want 40 nodes on every shot".

Or look at the progression of standard resolutions. There's some minor pressure to move some productions 4K finishing, but almost nobody seems to want to pay what it would cost, even though 4K now is probably cheaper than 2K was five or six years ago. You don't see crashing prices in a market where users are being under-served; in that market, they're willing to pay more for more capability. You see crashing prices in a market where users are being over-served.

There's some interesting discussion of this here:

Disruption (low-end or otherwise) happens when a product over-shoots the market. It makes sense to compete on a new basis, be it low price or convenience or customization, if the prevailing basis of competition has led the prevailing products to be more than good enough. If you look through all the examples of low-end disruption, you’ll find that the incumbents were motivated to flee up-market and to continue to improve their products even though they exceeded the demands and expectations of mainstream buyers.


This article is about the iPad, but the above paragraph applies almost perfectly to the post production hardware/software market. The whole reason you're seeing things like Mac versions of Resolve and Smoke in the first place is because the pricy turn-key versions were overshooting the market, and were vulnerable to low-end disruption.

And I suspect this is a one way process. That is to say, I don't think users usually move back upmarket, even when new capabilities arise that they could exploit earlier by doing so. For instance, let's say someone perfects machine vision technology and designs some software that can analyze footage, understand the scene in full 3D, and let you virtually move lights around. That would be pretty cool, it's something we could imagine happing in the next decade or so, and it would require a lot more processing power than today's color grading software. But I predict that if, when this technology hits, it requires expensive specialty hardware, practically nobody who has gotten used to finishing projects on cheap commodity hardware will use it... until it's possible to do on cheap commodity hardware.

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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 30, 2012 at 2:28:46 am

[Chris Kenny] "There's a motherboard on the market already that I believe solves this problem just by having DisplayPort input on the motherboard, to which you simply run a DisplayPort cable from the graphics card. That's a simple enough solution, and with a case designed with it in mind it wouldn't have to be ugly."

That's cool!


[Chris Kenny] "But new things take a while to show up. Color grading used to be a 'heavy iron' task, now in most cases it doesn't need to be. It's not like everyone said 'Well, sure, we can now get 10 nodes in real time on commodity hardware, but we're going to stick with $200K specialty systems because now we want 40 nodes on every shot"."

You are looking at high-end feature trickling down, but you are not acknowledging any growth of the high-end.

It was only a few years ago that only the very high end productions got any kind of color grading. As the capability of color grading is sliding down the market through more affordable tools, the expectation that mid-end and soon (if not now) that low-end productions would be graded is rising to meet it.

Likewise, the capabilities in the high-end of color grading (convergence with vfx and compositing, evidenced in technologies and techniques like 3D geometry-based re-lighting) has become the high-end expectation.

Put another way, there's no such thing as a free lunch. You, as a content producer, cannot solely capture the benefit (like cost savings or quality improvements) of a new capability. You must pass it on to your client. If you do not, efficient markets will punish you and reward your competitors who do pass on the benefit.

Walter Soyka
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 30, 2012 at 3:00:13 am

[Walter Soyka] "Likewise, the capabilities in the high-end of color grading (convergence with vfx and compositing, evidenced in technologies and techniques like 3D geometry-based re-lighting) has become the high-end expectation.
"


I don't know that these things have become the high-end expectation, though. As far as I can tell they're still used on relatively few projects even at the high-end.

It might clarify things to look at image resolution, since it's more objective. A substantial fraction of Hollywood films are still finished at 2K, even through 4K now is undoubtably cheaper than 2K was when DI started becoming standard. Why would this be so? I think it's fairly clear that it's because capability really is advancing faster than expectations. Put another way, given two systems with similar capabilities and performance, one that works in 4K and one that tops out at 2K, the former would be over-serving a large fraction of the potential market.

[Walter Soyka] "Put another way, there's no such thing as a free lunch. You, as a content producer, cannot solely capture the benefit (like cost savings or quality improvements) of a new capability. You must pass it on to your client. If you do not, efficient markets will punish you and reward your competitors who do pass on the benefit."

Well, ultimately this results in a larger quantity of cheaper, better content being available to consumers, but more innovation in distribution is probably required to make this materialize. Until then, I think various market participants are in fact managing to capture value they wouldn't in a perfectly efficient market.

--
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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 5:58:00 pm

I am not arguing that a technology is universally adopted the instant it becomes possible, and I am not arguing that expectations are always about a specific technical capability.


[Chris Kenny] "It might clarify things to look at image resolution, since it's more objective. A substantial fraction of Hollywood films are still finished at 2K, even through 4K now is undoubtably cheaper than 2K was when DI started becoming standard. Why would this be so? I think it's fairly clear that it's because capability really is advancing faster than expectations. Put another way, given two systems with similar capabilities and performance, one that works in 4K and one that tops out at 2K, the former would be over-serving a large fraction of the potential market."

This argument mixes micro-level capabilities (some facilities are capable of 4K production) with macro-level expectations (the entire industry wants 4K production). When you compare capabilities and expectations at the same level, this disparity doesn't exist.

This argument is also restricted to technical capabilities with no regard to pricing, which disconnects it from the real world. Capabilities and expectations are always expressed relative to price. Given infinite money to spend, you can have virtually any capability you want. With finite money to spend, your capabilities are limited, and expectations are similarly tempered.

Think of the project triangle: quality, speed, price. In the real world, consumers do not measure their expectations on a single dimension. They expect a certain quality at a certain price in a certain timetable. The good-enough principle is totally compatible with the idea that expectations rise at the same rate as capabilities. At some point, the quality will become good enough, and the capability growth and expectation escalation shift to price and schedule.

Let's use your example of resolution. Think of SD and HD. As the industry became capable of HD production at ever-lower price points, the expectation of HD production increased. Today, there is practically no SD-only production.

Resolution is interesting to study, because resolution increases step-wise (we jump discontinuously from one raster size to another), whereas Moore's Law ultimately suggests that computational power will increase exponentially. This means that as the time from any resolution increase progresses, computers will become drastically more powerful. In isolation, this would support your theory that capabilities are rising faster than expectations (computers get faster while resolution remains constant), but look at what actually happens industry-wide after resolution jumps: expectations grow, too, in the form of reduced budgets and compressed schedules.

If we can agree that expectations and capabilities both have rates of change, there are only three possibilities for the difference in those two rates at any given instant: expectations grow faster, capabilities grow faster, or they grow at the same rate.

What if expectations grew faster than capabilities? Expectations can't reasonably grow faster than capabilities; without the capability, there would be no justification for the expectation.

What if capabilities grew faster than expectations? This would result in increasing surplus of some kind for the producer, ultimately leading to increasing income or decreasing production time. (There are not too many posts on these forums suggesting that people have larger budgets than they know what to do with or longer schedules than they need.) Customers would not see better, cheaper, or faster products, because the benefits would be captured upstream.

What if capabilities and expectations grew at the same rate? Producers and consumers, through a functioning market, could get better products cheaper, better products faster, or cheaper products faster. Basically, as something desirable becomes feasible to produce at a low-enough cost, the market demands it, and competition squeezes out excessive profit, passing the savings on to consumers.

Ever-better products at ever-lower prices? That is exactly what is happening today (whether you're talking about the productions we work on for our clients, or the computers and technology we buy from hardware vendors, or any other functioning market). Expectations are rising at the same rate as capabilities.

Walter Soyka
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 7:41:42 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Resolution is interesting to study, because resolution increases step-wise (we jump discontinuously from one raster size to another), whereas Moore's Law ultimately suggests that computational power will increase exponentially. This means that as the time from any resolution increase progresses, computers will become drastically more powerful. In isolation, this would support your theory that capabilities are rising faster than expectations (computers get faster while resolution remains constant), but look at what actually happens industry-wide after resolution jumps: expectations grow, too, in the form of reduced budgets and compressed schedules."

I think we're talking completely at cross-purposes at this point. Including reduced budget as a form of higher expectation obfuscates what's occurring here. The reason budgets are falling is precisely because hardware capabilities are growing at a rate that exceeds the growth of people's technical expectations.

[Walter Soyka] "What if expectations grew faster than capabilities? Expectations can't reasonably grow faster than capabilities; without the capability, there would be no justification for the expectation."

Again, you're confusing the issue by mixing price expectations in with technical capabilities. Expectations can hypothetically outpace increase in technical capabilities. If it used to be the norm that action movies had x visual effects shots, and now it's the norm that they have 2x visual effects shots, but VFX shots haven't gotten any cheaper to do, that's an instance of expectations advancing faster than technical capabilities — and you deal with it, in this case, by just spending twice as much.

[Walter Soyka] "What if capabilities and expectations grew at the same rate? Producers and consumers, through a functioning market, could get better products cheaper, better products faster, or cheaper products faster. Basically, as something desirable becomes feasible to produce at a low-enough cost, the market demands it, and competition squeezes out excessive profit, passing the savings on to consumers."

There seems to be an implication here that I'm arguing such value won't be passed onto consumers. Though I think there are some issues with that in the current market (bottlenecks in distribution, general inertia with respect to industry practice), I do believe this is what will eventually end up happening.

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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:15:00 pm

[Chris Kenny] "I think we're talking completely at cross-purposes at this point. Including reduced budget as a form of higher expectation obfuscates what's occurring here."

Well, we're certainly talking past each other.

You seem to think that talking about budgets in a discussion about price and performance obfuscates the point. I think that failing to consider economics in a conversation about price and performance and considering only the technology is fallacious.

Technology alone is meaningless. The Dark Knight used 8K for some shots way back in 2008 -- why doesn't everyone use 8K all the time now, if it's so much better? You can't explain people choosing 2K production over higher resolutions for technical reasons; you can explain it with economic reasons.

Including reduced budget as a form of higher expectation doesn't obfuscate what's going on here -- it explains it. If the expectation for a certain quality at a certain price remained constant or decreased, then production budgets would remain constant or increase while technology costs dropped, resulting in increased profits for the producers. That is not happening -- competition prevents it, keeping expectations in line with capabilities.


[Chris Kenny] "Expectations can hypothetically outpace increase in technical capabilities. If it used to be the norm that action movies had x visual effects shots, and now it's the norm that they have 2x visual effects shots, but VFX shots haven't gotten any cheaper to do, that's an instance of expectations advancing faster than technical capabilities — and you deal with it, in this case, by just spending twice as much."

If the expectation is higher than the capability, you cannot possibly satisfy the expectation.

And I see you are now willing to include budget in the conversation.


[Chris Kenny] "There seems to be an implication here that I'm arguing such value won't be passed onto consumers."

No, it's not an implication. I'm explicitly saying that retained value is a direct consequence of slow-growing expectations and fast-growing capabilities. It's not until competition forces the expectation back up that the value is forced free and is able to flow downstream from the producer.

If you don't like the consequence, you can reject the premises or prove the logic false. However, if we're only talking about technical expectations and capabilities and not about economic expectations and capabilities, I don't see why you'd even have an interest in the concept of value.

If you want to strictly limit the discussion to the idea that technology is improving faster than required by the demands of some specific market segments' needs, you have no argument from me -- but I think there's a lot more going on here than technological improvement that such a discussion would gloss over.

Walter Soyka
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:32:10 pm

[Walter Soyka] "You seem to think that talking about budgets in a discussion about price and performance obfuscates the point. I think that failing to consider economics in a conversation about price and performance and considering only the technology is fallacious. "

If we look at the history of this market, we can see periods where prices aren't really dropping, because products at the same price still aren't doing everything users want them to. We can also see periods where prices are dropping, because products at lower price points become sufficient for user needs. We're presently seeing the latter. That was my point. You're trying to set up a system of definitions under which this latter scenario can't be described as capability advancing faster than expectations, but that's essentially just a meaningless argument over definitions.

[Walter Soyka] "And I see you are now willing to include budget in the conversation."

I've continuously included it in the conversation, I've just argued that when you're discussing whether capabilities are advancing faster than expectations, mixing budget into technical expectations makes it very hard to figure out what's happening. Rather than being an expectation itself, budget is better understood as a consequence of where capabilities lie relative to expectations. When capabilities advance faster than expectations, things get cheaper. When expectations advance faster than capabilities, they get more expensive.

[Walter Soyka] "No, it's not an implication. I'm explicitly saying that retained value is a direct consequence of slow-growing expectations and fast-growing capabilities. It's not until competition forces the expectation back up that the value is forced free and is able to flow downstream from the producer."

This construction is contingent on your inclusion of cost in expectations; see above.

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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:33:26 pm

[Chris Kenny] "If we look at the history of this market, we can see periods where prices aren't really dropping, because products at the same price still aren't doing everything users want them to. We can also see periods where prices are dropping, because products at lower price points become sufficient for user needs. We're presently seeing the latter. That was my point."

And it's all consistent with my point. So what do we disagree about?


[Chris Kenny] "You're trying to set up a system of definitions under which this latter scenario can't be described as capability advancing faster than expectations, but that's essentially just a meaningless argument over definitions."

You're trying to set up an overly narrow system of definitions where costs somehow don't come into play in the decisions people make. I think talking about technology in isolation is silly. We don't make decisions based on technology alone. Cost matters.

I agree with your point that technology's capabilities can grow faster than some users' ability to exploit it. Once I factor in how costs influence behavior, though, you seem to disagree with my argument, but you're not identifying a flaw in the premises or logic (other than to say we're having a meaningless argument over definitions).

My proposition is economic in nature. You are trying to refute it with non-economic examples. If you exclude my reasoning about costs, it's not surprising at all that my economic argument would fail.

If we can't agree on the scope of our conversation, then there's no point in continuing.

Walter Soyka
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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 10:36:35 pm

[Walter Soyka] "You're trying to set up an overly narrow system of definitions where costs somehow don't come into play in the decisions people make."

No, I'm trying to set up a system of definitions where the costs people decide to pay are based on where capabilities stand relative to expectations — rather than including cost itself as an expectation, which obfuscates shifts in purely technical capabilities vs. purely technical expectations.

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Walter Soyka
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 11:16:11 pm

[Chris Kenny] "No, I'm trying to set up a system of definitions where the costs people decide to pay are based on where capabilities stand relative to expectations — rather than including cost itself as an expectation, which obfuscates shifts in purely technical capabilities vs. purely technical expectations."

There's no obfuscation intended on my part.

Cost is not external to expectation/capability when you have to pay for the things you use. Considering it separately is impractical.

Quick question: do you have different expectations with respect to the capabilities of a $20,000 product versus a $2,000 product in the same category?

Walter Soyka
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Shawn Miller
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Nov 1, 2012 at 6:33:34 pm

[Chris Kenny] "...VFX shots haven't gotten any cheaper to do, that's an instance of expectations advancing faster than technical capabilities — and you deal with it, in this case, by just spending twice as much."

Not necessarily, Chris. Compute and labor costs have gone down, so well planned VFX shots that have been done before are much cheaper to produce now. That's why televison and low budget films can afford to do more VFX shots now, compared to just a few years ago. Where costs haven't gone down is on the dev side. If a director wants to do something that's never been done before (like much of the 3D capture in Avatar), or if they want to do something familiar but at much higher quality (like Tranformers 3), then costs will be much higher.

Shawn



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MIke Guidotti
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 6:49:55 pm

[Chris Kenny] " If it's really four Thunderbolt ports and two and PCIe slots, it'll be fine. It'll annoy some people, but it'll fundamentally do everything a "pro" Mac needs to do."

Except run Avid, a Red Rocket and Pro Tools HDX on the same box.

Or large Pro Tools HDX systems with extra process cards and third party cards like UAD...

Last time Apple tried to "define the paradigm" they pooped out FCPX and forced the bulk of their Pro customers to Avid and Adobe...

This is of course assuming there will even be a new Mac Pro. Magic 8 ball says "Signs point to no."


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Chris Kenny
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 7:57:08 pm

[MIke Guidotti] "Except run Avid, a Red Rocket and Pro Tools HDX on the same box.

Or large Pro Tools HDX systems with extra process cards and third party cards like UAD..."


This is a consequence of the peripherals currently available, not the fundamental capabilities of the hypothetical system that has been proposed. A single Thunderbolt channel has the bandwidth for thousands of uncompressed audio channels, for instance, and the machine that has been proposed would have eight of them (it's two channels per port). In fact, audio might be one of those instances I was discussing, where you're better off with external Thunderbolt devices than internal cards, because the number of physical slots is more of a bottleneck than bandwidth is.

[MIke Guidotti] "Last time Apple tried to "define the paradigm" they pooped out FCPX and forced the bulk of their Pro customers to Avid and Adobe..."

There is absolutely no systematic data available showing that any such thing has occurred.

[MIke Guidotti] "This is of course assuming there will even be a new Mac Pro. Magic 8 ball says "Signs point to no.""

Tim Cook says yes. At least, he indicates there's something coming next year for pro customers. What it will be called, I can't say, and as we've been discussing I believe it may differ significantly from the current Mac Pro.

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MIke Guidotti
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 8:36:10 pm

[Chris Kenny] " the machine that has been proposed would have eight of them"

Is there any systematic data showing such an item is currently under design?


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Craig Seeman
Re: A Mac Pro prediction
on Oct 31, 2012 at 8:35:52 pm

[MIke Guidotti] "This is of course assuming there will even be a new Mac Pro. Magic 8 ball says "Signs point to no.""

Tim Cook has already said there will be a replacement (My hunch is it'll be called something other than MacPro).

The HDX is a 4 lane card last I checked. Thunderbolt is currently 4 lanes.
RedRocket is an 8 lane card so that would currently be best served in a PCIe slot 8 (or 16) lanes. Although it does work in a Sonnet Echo PCIe to Thunderbolt Chassis although it may not utilize the full resources
http://www.sonnettech.com/news/pr2011/pr092211_redrocket.html

So RedRocket and HDX would work in the MacPro replacement some of us suspect.



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